Kanye West is not a genius. Geniuses solve problems, Kanye creates them.
Gary Barlow, a talented singer and showman pushing 40, is a star in Britain and the 2012 Olympic Games host nation's Comeback King.
Scruffy looking in a black sequined blazer, a crisp white shirt and a sly grin framed by a 10 o'clock shadow, he's Simon Cowell's replacement on the hit UK show X-Factor and is also the cover star of this month's Esquire UK.
But Barlow isn't the reason why I picked up a copy of the stylish gentleman's magazine: the six page article on the decline of hip-hop by writer and TV presenter Ekow Eshun was.
Eshun is, I believe, the target of Kanye's five hour EPIC Twitter rant last night.
A quick glance of the above image, which serves as an illustration of Eshun's article and the decline of the planet conquering genre at-large, clearly targets Kanye as one of the reasons why uber-successful rappers are out of touch with the common and unemployed man.
Dive into the article's text and the same conclusion is drawn. Get ready: liberal quoting ahead.
"As it crests to middle age, hip-hop is facing a crisis of direction that threatens its future as a meaningful cultural form," Eshun writes. "The closest parallel to the current state of affairs is probably the sclerotic condition of rock in the Seventies. If there's a symbol for rap's current sense of drift, its probably Jay-Z and Kayne West's 2011 album Watch The Throne. Recorded at exotic locations around the world, including Honolulu, Sydney and the Le Meurice hotel in Paris, the album is jarringly out of sync with the times.
From the high-end watch brands name-checked in its songs (Audemars Piguet, Franck Muller, Richard Mille) to the gaudy gold cover art by Givenchy's creative director Riccardo Tisci, it is hard to believe that the album was made during the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. That's all the more alarming because hip-hop is all about context. At their best, rap artists demonstrate an acute awareness of place and purpose and history. That's what makes, say Nas' Illmatic (1994) with its deftly wrought portraits of life in the housing projects, so compelling to listen to.
Needless to say, that's something Jay-Z excelled at on his landmark 1996 debut album, Reasonable Doubt and later albums. But for the most part, Watch The Throne is the document of a gilded super-rich lifestyle. And, stripped of reference to the lives of its listener-some of whom will be among the one in 10 Americans currently without a job-its relentless materialism risks sounding aloof and contemptuous."